Hansi Lo Wang for NPR:
One of President Biden’s first executive actions has reversed former President Donald Trump’s unprecedented policy of altering a key census count by excluding unauthorized immigrants. The change ensures that the U.S. continues to follow more than two centuries of precedent in determining representation in Congress and the Electoral College.
Hours after he was sworn in as president on Wednesday, Biden signed an executive order that calls for all U.S. residents, in the country legally or not, to be counted in state population numbers that, according to the 14th Amendment, must include the “whole number of persons in each state.”
The state counts are used once a decade to reallocate each state’s share of electoral votes and the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Since the first national head count in 1790, those numbers have never omitted any residents because of immigration status.
Biden’s order also rescinds an executive order Trump issued in July 2019 as part of a project at the Census Bureau to produce citizenship data using government records as an alternative to Trump’s failed push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census forms. Trump’s order directed federal agencies to share their records with the bureau, which has been compiling information from agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration, as well as some states’ driver’s license information.